Five Star Technology Solutions wants to hire applicants with solid technical skills, great problem-solving abilities, and a growth mindset. To achieve that goal, Five Star has enthusiastically hired a handful of Eleven Fifty Academy graduates over the years. The folks at Five Star share how Eleven Fifty alumni have embraced core values, gotten promoted, and proven their growth mindsets. Find out what it takes to work in edtech, and how the Eleven Fifty grads are pre-qualified for positions at Five Star!
What kinds of problems does Five Star Technology Solutions solve
Five Star exists to serve as a catalyst for innovation so school leaders can be empowered to achieve their vision of excellence. We solve issues pertaining to data collection and analysis, training and coaching for educators and administrators, and engineering projects like cybersecurity and virtualization. We offer many solutions for a wide array of district goals — our vision is to ensure that technology is used in a meaningful way that allows all students to dream bigger.
We’ve done a lot of work with Chicago and Milwaukee Public Schools, and now we have data analytics work in Iowa and Arizona, so Five Star has definitely grown more nationwide during the pandemic.
What is the engineering team like at Five Star?
The Engineering department is composed of nine different teams that correlate to specific areas K-12 Schools use day-to-day. We have the following teams to best support our clients: Microsoft, infrastructure, Google, content filtering, MDM, VOIP, Image & App deployment, Cloud, and Cybersecurity. The teams are sorted into different projects, so when one comes down the pipeline, it’s sorted out based on which engineer is most suited to handle it.
How many Eleven Fifty Academy graduates has your team hired so far?
We’ve hired four Eleven Fifty grads so far, and we extended an offer to a new Eleven Fifty grad this last week! The majority of those new hires are coming on as Tier One Onsite Technicians, and they work directly with schools. We recently promoted one of the Eleven Fifty grads to a Support Specialist position and they now work with the engineers on the Cybersecurity team.
Before we hired our first Eleven Fifty alum, we didn’t know much about the bootcamp. But her personality was contagious and her skillset was amazing. When we had another position open, she reached out to her cohort and let them know. After we hired the second Eleven Fifty grad, we began to reach out to Eleven Fifty Academy whenever there were open positions to encourage their graduates to apply.
What is your team looking for when interviewing bootcamp grads?
We are looking for candidates with a solid technology skillset and high-level problem-solving skills. People skills are important — since our new hires are the face of Five Star, we are looking for candidates who can work with a vast variety of people within a school district. It’s important that our new hires be able to connect and understand the emotions and issues educators are facing. We want people who are able to understand those concerns and communicate.
What we love to see and have seen in our Eleven Fifty hires is a growth mindset. They come in wanting to grow, help, and experience as much as they can. Our Eleven Fifty hires are like sponges, and that kind of attitude makes us want to invest in them even more.
Eleven Fifty Academy’s Cybersecurity bootcamp students also graduate with CompTIA Security + and Network + certifications, which makes them pre-qualified for positions within Five Star. Cybersecurity certifications aren’t a requirement, but we recognize that they are industry-level certifications. Eleven Fifty grads come in with those certifications, which gives them an advantage.
What do you expect from bootcamp grads in your interview process?
We review their resume and we are looking for personality. Education is a special niche, so it’s important for them to fit in the education world. A candidate can have all the technical skills, but if they aren’t someone who can work in education, they might not work out at Five Star. On any given day, our techs are dealing with kindergarteners all the way up to superintendents. It’s a broad section of customer service.
Did you have to convince your team that bootcamp grads are smart hires?
Our bootcamp hires have come in with the hustle and personality, and have shown their knowledge and the desire to learn more in the tech field. We look for the best candidate with the most qualifications coupled with soft skills. After hiring a few Eleven Fifty grads, it wasn’t hard to convince anyone on our team the worth of these new bootcamp engineers.
What kinds of projects are your Eleven Fifty Academy hires working on?
The new hires work directly in the schools performing a variety of roles. They work directly with teachers, students, and administrators within districts to provide technical support and guidance. This means that they troubleshoot and repair various devices and peripheral equipment including, but not limited to iPads, Macbooks, Chromebooks, Windows laptops, Windows Desktop PCs, interactive whiteboards, and more.
Our Eleven Fifty hires also collaborate and communicate with higher-level technical support until problems are fully resolved. They plan and prepare technology for various aspects of the learning environment such as testing, remote learning, onsite learning, and similar tasks. Finally, they help maintain and implement the overall technology vision for the school.
What has stood out about the Eleven Fifty Academy Bootcamp grads you’ve hired?
The Eleven Fifty Academy Bootcamp grads have stood out with their willingness to learn and speak up. It has been refreshing to see them seek opportunities for growth and advancement. At Five Star, one of our core values is partnership and there is a feeling of instant collaboration with the bootcamp grads that we have hired.
How have you seen tech hiring change at Five Star over the years?
Our applicants now have more hands-on experience and more certifications. Tech education has changed and we need people that are able to adapt quickly and pivot to new technologies. That said, when we hire bootcampers or recent college grads, we know they’re coming in with limited experience. Five Star is a great launchpad for their career and once they’re on our team, we heavily dedicate resources and time to their growth paths.
How does Five Star support new hires in onboarding?
Our Eleven Fifty hires all have channels where they can get instant help with projects from our engineering team. We make sure that our new hires work hand-in-hand with our Senior Engineers. We also host 52 Sprints, which is a 15-minute check-in with all of our onsite technicians to hear them and find ways to further support them. We focus on their work for the week, the challenges they’re facing, and what they need from us.
As Director of Onsite Services, I track our new hires’ goals as far as their plans for growth. We offer a couple of platforms where they can study during the week, which is unique. We ask them to dedicate time on their calendar to study and we have them do that during work hours instead of outside of work. We do this so they can continue to work towards their desired growth path.
At Five Star, it’s important to us that our employees share their career goals with us so we can help them get there. Even if they aren’t in a specific role when we first hire them, we can look for opportunities for them to shadow a project. Down the road, we can point to them working on that project and show their experience.
Do you recommend that recent bootcamp grads consider an internship before their first software engineer or cybersecurity role?
Internships have the potential to be invaluable. However, we offer entry-level positions that we have found offer quick upward mobility into those software engineer or cybersecurity roles. We have a recent Eleven Fifty graduate who started as an Onsite Technician and after a few months was elevated into a new role, but there is still a long way to go in terms of her growth trajectory with us!
Do you have any advice for other employers who are considering hiring a Bootcamp grad?
First off, send those bootcamp grads to Five Star!
Realistically, take advantage of a bootcamp grad’s knowledge and find out their goals for the future in order to have a clear path for growth within the organization. There’s power in a community that can reach out to individuals like Eleven Fifty candidates to increase the talent pool.
Will you be hiring Eleven Fifty Academy grads in the future?
Absolutely! They have a great reputation at Five Star and continue to push our organization in new, innovative ways. Our bootcamp hires embody our company’s core values and lift others up with them.
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